The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Anne Singer,, 202-271-4679
Shannon Moriarty,, 617-423-2148 x108

Report: Austerity Policies Worsen Racial Economic Inequalities, Hit Blacks and Latinos Hardest

United for a Fair Economy Releases State of the Dream 2011: Austerity for Whom? for MLK Day


The official
unemployment rate is 15.8 percent among Blacks and 13 percent among
Latinos; Blacks earn only 57 cents for each dollar of White family
income, Latinos earn 59 cents; and Blacks have only 10 cents of net
wealth while Latinos have 12 cents to every dollar of net wealth that
Whites have. As documented in the "State of the Dream 2011: Austerity
for Whom?," this is the precarious state in which Blacks and Latinos
find themselves as the nation, still struggling amidst the Great
Recession, remembers the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was
gunned down while leading the Poor People's Campaign in 1968.

The 8th annual "State of the Dream" report from United for a Fair Economy
analyzes the policy positions of the new House majority - shrinking
government and cutting taxes for those at the top - and their
implications on communities of color. "Austerity measures based on the
conservative tenets of less government and lower taxes will ratchet down
the standard of living for all Americans, while simultaneously widening
our nation's racial and economic divide." said Brian Miller, Executive
Director of United for a Fair Economy and co-author of the report.
analyses in "State of the Dream 2011" show the clear beneficiaries of
the top-end tax cuts included in the December tax deal. Whites are three
times more likely than Blacks and 4.6 times more likely than Latinos to
have incomes of $250,000 or more, and thus receive a disproportionate
benefit from the extension of the Bush tax cuts for top-tier earners.
Special tax breaks for investment income flow overwhelmingly to Whites
as well. Blacks earn 13 cents and Latinos earn 8 cents to each dollar of
White dividend income. Capital gains income shows similar disparities
as documented in the report.
deficits that these tax cuts help create are being used to justify a
host of austerity measures that will harm Americans of all races, but
will hit Blacks and Latinos the hardest," adds Miller. "With 42 percent
of Blacks and 37 percent of Latinos lacking the funds to meet minimal
household expenses for even three months should they become unemployed,
cutting public assistance programs will have devastating impacts on
Black and Latino workers." The report documents the relative importance
of safety net programs under threat, such as Social Security, to Blacks
and Latinos.
"On the
front line of the budget cuts are the state and federal workers that
police our streets, educate our children, and inspect our food
supplies," adds Miller. "Severe cuts to our public sector work force
will erode our nation's ability to meet the needs of all Americans
regardless of race. At the same time, the brunt of those layoffs will be
felt by African-Americans who are disproportionately employed in public
sector jobs for a host of historic reasons." Blacks are 30 percent more
likely to work in public sector jobs than the general work force and 70
percent more likely to work for the federal government. The report also
documents the greater strides that Blacks and Latinos have made in
achieving parity with their White counterparts in the public
administration jobs threatened by budget cut proposals.
The report - which can be downloaded at
- calls on policy makers to reject austerity measures that will
increase economic inequality and worsen the racial divide. In light of
the startling facts of racial economic disparity documented in the
report, additional policy steps are called for, including: increased
federal aids to states and cities, effective jobs programs, restoring
the progressive tax system, redirecting unproductive federal spending,
strengthening workers rights, and protecting public sector jobs.

United for a Fair Economy challenges the concentration of wealth and power that corrupts democracy, deepens the racial divide and tears communities apart. We use popular economics education, trainings, and creative communications to support social movements working for a resilient, sustainable and equitable economy. United for a Fair Economy believes another world is possible. We envision a global society which respects the humanity, rights, and creativity of all people.